Cutting edge method to make energy from landfill more efficient

Producing energy from organic landfill waste could be made more efficient thanks to new research into pyrolysis, a way of melting waste down into fuel without exposing it to flames.

Pyrolysis, the subject of research at Aston university, involves heating biomass waste to very high temperatures in the absence of oxygen to convert it into gas or liquid-form fuel. Researchers from the university’s Bio-Energy Research Group (BERG) working together with waste company Biffa hope it could help convert a changing landfill mix into energy more efficiently.

As more biodegradable matter is diverted away from landfill in the Government’s drive to reduce the fraction of organic waste sent to rubbish dumps, the amount of methane gas they produce diminishes.

The methane can be burned to produce electricity for the national grid, but the process becomes less efficient as landfill sites give off less methane.

Pyrolysis could help make the process more efficient by converting biomass directly into fuel. It also enables the separation of metals, which can be recycled into building materials.

“Pyrolysis is a technology with promise. It offers an innovative way to recover energy from waste and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels,” said Stamatios Dacey, a PhD student working on the project.

The method could help the Government move nearer its target 67% of waste recovered by 2015, researchers say.

For more details see Aston University’s Bio-energy Research Group website.

Goska Romanowicz

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